Broken Wings

Fyretober 2021

Welcome to day 19 of Fyretober! I hope you’re all enjoying a month of flash fiction as much as I am. Enjoy today’s writing challenge from Fyrecon’s Fyretober!

The shops bells chimed a hollow jangle behind Arold. The soft sound near deafening next to the scratch of Arold’s knife over wood. Setting the knife on the table, he rose from his stool brushing shavings from his apron as he turned. The words of welcome vanished when he saw the waif that stood timidly inside the door.

He stood, perched on one leg resting the opposite’s toes on the floor curled under. His clothing was a mismatched collection of bits most likely snitched from rubbish heaps, the smell of which – or a lack of bathing – seeped from him. His hands were tucked behind his back at least, and not trying to nick a toy from the shelves. Not the sort of patron which belonged in Master Nathye’s shop.

Nathye, the greatest toy artisan in Cynheard… no, in all of Ancip Masym, served the highest noble households. His reputation was beyond reproach and Arold had not strived for three years to gain an apprenticeship here, working his fingers until the bled, to see it ruined now. There was nothing here for the boy.

Arold flung the welcoming smile he’d perfected over two years’ apprenticeship and scowled. Raising his hands, he waved the boy away. “Be gone with you. We’ve no alms here try at Saint Ewin’s.”

The boy’s checks puffed out but otherwise he remained motionless. He ducked his head finally. “Is Master Nathye present?”

He was, but Arold wouldn’t admit as much. “Even if he were, I assure you the Master is far too busy for you.” The boy glanced up at this, smacking his teeth together. Arold could see the next argument forming. No, that would not do. He waved his hand impatiently. “I already told you–”

“Told who what?” a deep voice interrupted behind him. Arold spun, positioning himself between the boy and the man behind even as he ducked his head into a quick bow. Straightening he smiled at Nathye, taking in the leather apron he wore, and bits of shavings stuck to it. Curse the boy for his interruption.

“Nothing that need bother you, sir. I was merely helping the boy with directions.” He waved vaguely to the child behind him. “He’s seeking Saint Ewin’s chapel.”

Nathye leaned sideways, looking at the child behind him. “I doubt there’s an urchin in the city that couldn’t find the chapel blindfolded at night.” He wiped his hands on his apron and stepped around Arold. “Tell me child, what brings you to my door?”

The boy looked between Nathye and Arold. Gulping, he moved his hands from behind his back. In one hand he grasped the wooden body of a dragon and in his other of pair of wings which had obviously snapped off the carvings back. As equally obvious was that the toy was Nathye’s work, but a dragon. Nathye refused to carve them for any noble. How had the boy…

“Ohhh.” The sound was long, and Nathye raised a hand to tap his cheek. “I see. Well that just won’t do.” He extended his hand to the boy. “Come with me and we’ll mend the creature. Arold, do close the shop for the day. I won’t be seeing other clients.”

Arold felt rooted to the spot only able to turn and watch as Nathye escorted the child into the back workroom. No patron was allowed entry there, but Nathye escorted the boy as if he were a prince. After a moment soft conversation, just low enough Arold couldn’t decipher the words, drifted back through the door.

Arold stepped backward at the sound. His limbs felt heavy as he shuffled toward the door, twisted to keep his gaze locked on the inner workshop. Twisting the bolt locked, he flipped the shops sign and returned to him workbench and picked up his latest project.

He turned the carving over in his hands but couldn’t grasp the flow of his work. Instead, he listened to the squeal of laughter. Drifting toward the door he saw Nathye at work at the table, glues, binders, and other tools arranged carefully as Nathye examined the toy. He drifted back to his workbench in the same confused fog.

The rest of the day followed that pattern. Arold trying to work and failing. Quiet conversation he couldn’t understand taunted his mind. He wandered aimlessly and caught glimpses of the master conversing with the boy as he worked to repair the toy. Occasionally bread and fruits were on the table as well. When the last light of day shone through the windows the pair emerged.

The dragon was whole again, wings rising elegantly from his back. “There you are,” Nathye said unlocking the door. “May the creature prove as able a defender in your next encounter.” The boy flashed Nathye a quick smile and darted out into the streets. The master stepped partially out and watched where the boy had gone before returning to the shop.

Arold waited as he rebolted the door. “Master?” he said as the man turned toward him.

Nathye’s eyes twitched, and he looked to the work on Arold’s table. Too little done for a whole day, but no reprisal came. Nathye nodded and turned back toward his workshop.

“Master Nathye,” Arold tried again his words continuing in a torrent, “I don’t understand why you spent a day on that boy. I mean charity and all but–”

Mercifully, Nathye cut him off. “Arold.” The man paused at the door to his workshop. Raising a hand, he clutched the doorjamb and shook his head. “Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons.” Arold would have argued further, but Nathye’s sleeve had fallen slightly, revealing a tattoo remarkably like the dragon the boy had carried.

Returning to his workbench, Arold picked up his work and carved away into the night. Even the familiar pattern of work couldn’t shack the gravity of Nathye’s voice when he’d spoken in a tone that rumbled like thunder.

Be sure to check out all the #fyretober creations.

#fyretober #fyretoberflashfiction #fyretoberday19

“Fyretober isn’t for just writers or just artists. It’s for everyone who loves to create, and this month we’re looking to see your flash fiction, poetry, and illustrations every day. We’ll be providing daily prompts for the month and want to see what new concepts and wonders you can make with them.

Join the creation fun and share your work with us.

This isn’t a contest. But that doesn’t mean we won’t be giving out random prizes for amazing work.”

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